Belarus would like army to be modernized at Russia’s expense

Alyaksandr Lukashenka revealed on Friday that he would like the Belarusian Armed Forces to be modernized at the expense of Russia because “there is currently a very serious situation in the western theater of military operations.”

“I want them [Russia] to agree to give us assistance in the modernization of the Belarusian army,” Mr. Lukashenka said, speaking to Belarus’ scientific elite at the National Academy of Sciences.

The Belarusian Armed Forces should be modernized at the expense of Russia or Russia should supply modern weaponry at low prices, Mr. Lukashenka noted. “Our resources are not enough for us to be able to pay for modern weapons,” he said. “We have neither oil nor natural gas, which are the main source of money for military modernization.”

According to the Belarusian leader, he discussed the issue with Vladimir Putin at their meeting in Saint Petersburg on April 3. “At a meeting of the Security Council of Belarus, we had identified what we needed and I told him about this,” Mr. Lukashenka said. “He exclaimed, ‘Do you know how much this costs?’ I said, ‘Yes. I know how much SU-30 fighter aircraft cost. Some 20 million to 25 million [dollars a jet].’ I said, ‘Okay. I’ll pay half the price.’ This is because we need them now, even now because old SU and MiG models are being withdrawn from service and we need more modern aircraft.”

“We’ll continue to discuss this issue in Bishkek [on the sidelines of a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, which is to be held in the Kyrgyz capital on April 14],” Mr. Lukashenka said. “We’ll also discuss issues relating to security and defense at the next meeting of the Supreme State Council [of the Belarusian-Russian Union State], in addition to issues concerning agriculture, exports to Russia and industrial cooperation, especially considering the upcoming military exercise Zapad [West] 2017.”